The viral infection became an epidemic in December 2019 as it spread from the Chinese city of Wuhan to most parts of the globe. And for quite some time, India had been able to evade this disease. But eventually, our luck ran out.
The coronavirus case count is increasing steadily with new cases being reported every day. Now, more than ever, it is important for people to form a clear idea of the coronavirus disease. Only when we are armed with knowledge can we save ourselves and prevent further escalation of this health emergency.
A) What is coronavirus?
Today the whole world is talking about coronavirus. We know that it can be lethal and it is highly contagious. But what is it exactly? As the name suggests, it is a type of virus that looks like a crown under the microscope.
There are several strains of this virus known to scientists. Many strains exist in animals without affecting humans. Coronavirus belongs to the same family of viruses as the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory System). The strain that originated in China and has caused so many deaths is called the COVID-19.
Scientists do not know how the COVID-19 first affected humans. Neither do they know, exactly where in Wuhan, the virus struck. Many believe that the outbreak can be traced to a seafood market. But later research found that the first person who contracted COVID-19 (patient Zero) had not consumed seafood purchased from that market.
This new strain of coronavirus has an incubation period of 14 days, which is why it takes 10-14 days from the time of exposure to the virus for symptoms to show up.
B) How would you know that you have contracted coronavirus?
It is extremely important that everyone learns to identify the symptoms of coronavirus. And remembering them isn’t difficult because coronavirus symptoms are the same as those of the flu.
You may have developed coronavirus infection if you notice these symptoms-
- Sore, itchy or swollen throat
- Coughing and sneezing
- Headache and muscle pain that accompany fever
- Breathing difficulty
- Runny nose
There are a few risk factors of coronavirus-
- Having travelled to or lived in countries that have reported coronavirus outbreaks.
- Being elderly.
- Having a history of heart problems and diabetes.
C) How will you confirm if you have coronavirus?
If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, do not waste time and visit your doctor immediately. Do not pass them off as signs of the common cold because coronavirus is here in India and your timely action can keep not just you but also everyone you come in contact with safe.
You will be recommended a blood test by the doctor. If the lab test finds traces of coronavirus in your sample, then it will be confirmed that you have the disease. You will then be put under treatment and quarantined so that you do not spread the disease to others by coughing or sneezing.
D) Treatment of coronavirus
At present, no vaccine or medicine can prevent or cure coronavirus. People who have tested positive are kept under observation. Treatment involves managing the symptoms of the viral infection such as taking medicines that help with coughing, nasal blockage, pain and sore throat.
If the disease progresses to pneumonia, medicines that can cure it are administered. Patients have to drink lots of fluids and eat healthily. They will be discharged as soon as the symptoms dissipate and tests reveal that the virus is no longer present in their bodies.
E) Coronavirus Dos and Don’ts
To help curb the coronavirus pandemic, here is a list of do’s and don’ts that we must all observe –
- Do wash your hands with soap and water or alcoholic hand sanitizer frequently, especially if you are using public facilities like transportation and washrooms.
- Do avoid contact with anyone who looks sick.
- Do use a disposable napkin or a handkerchief to cover your face when you cough or sneeze.
- Don’t be part of a large gathering. If you are within just a few feet of an infected person, you could contract the virus.
- Don’t touch your face, nose, mouth or eyes with unwashed hands.
- Don’t hide your symptoms for fear of being quarantined.
- Don’t travel abroad especially to countries that are reeling under the coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus is wreaking havoc globally. But you can stop it in its tracks if you follow the precautions strictly. So observe personal hygiene and request your loved ones to do the same to stay safe and protected.